Re: How Long
I had good annual paps for 25 years. Just over 2 years ago my doctor asked if she could do the HPV/dna test with my pap. I said yes. The pap came back fine, but the HPV test came back positive for high risk HPV.
I had a LOT of question about why it was just showing up. What I finally pieced together is that the virus has been in my body for at least 15 years (at that point, now 17). It may or may not have been causing damage all that time. It is possible that stress activated the virus. It is also possible the virus had been causing slow damage that whole time. Something else I figured out is that the test that doctors now use to test for high risk HPV has only been approved by the FDA (in the USA) for about 6 years. Many doctors still don't routinely offer it to their patients over 30 (for whom it is especially helpful in diagnosing possible dysplasia/cancer). For this reason, it seems there are more women being diagnosed with high risk HPV; their doctors are just now actually testing for it! It isn't because the patient is recently infected (or with a recent infection - it is just being detected because of availability and research indicating its usefulness).